Zir-e poost-e shahr (Under the Skin of the City), 2000, Rakhshan Banietemad

Zir-e poost-e shahr (Under the Skin of the City)

Director: Rakhshan Banietemad; Screenplay: Rakhshan Banietemad, Farid Mostafavi; Cinematography: Hossein Jafarian; Editing: Mostafa Khergheh-Poush; Cast: Golab Adineh, Mohammad-Reza Forutan, Baran Kosari. Iran, 2000, DCP (shot on 35mm), color, 95 min. Persian with English subtitles

The final film in Banietemad's loose "City Trilogy," Under the Skin of the City is easily her most awarded and narratively complicated feature. The film is the story of Tuba, a woman who we first met in The May Lady, where she appears as a side character in court pleading for her child. Tuba works in a factory, struggling to provide for her husband and four children. In a desperate attempt to help his mother, her eldest son winds up putting the entire family in even more trouble. Under the Skin of the City was the most attended film of the year in Iran, which it managed without any TV promotion. Banietemad directly addressed the politics of the time – or rather the failure of politics – by situating her story in the period leading up to parliamentary elections and inserting political debates into her characters' everyday conversations. The emotional drama is elevated by superb acting, especially from Golab Adineh as Tuba and Mohammad Reza Foroutan as her son Abbas. Carried over from The May Lady, the heroes from Under the Skin of the City later reappear in Banietemad's feature Tales (2014). (T.A.)